status report

I’m BACK!

Would you like to know where I’ve been? So would I.

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Photo courtesy of CreateHER Stock Photos

After some freelancing success and a hiatus away from all things writing-related, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not I lost my mojo. Over the past few months, I’ve certainly felt as though I’d been torn away from my talent. I figured now’s as good a time as any to get to know and show who I am again.

Let me begin by getting you up to speed: During the last few months of 2018 I had a day job*. Although it looked good on paper, in reality, the position truly wasn’t for me. Currently, I question whether or not I should even have it on my resume. There were signs from the beginning that things weren’t meant to be. A bad contract and horrible reviews of my workplace should have been enough to make me be cautious, but I was desperate to be employed. (Note: Desperation ALWAYS leads to bad decisions.)

As time went on, I found myself perpetually stressed. Yet through it all, I longed for a sense of normalcy. Every now and then I tried to keep up with friends and acquaintances via my social media accounts. But by the time Christmas Holidays rolled around, I was mentally and physically drained. In the end I learned that when it comes to finding work, I can afford to be cautious. 

Since then, in the wake of the new year, I tried to resurrect an old piece of writing. Last year I’d successfully pitched yet abandoned an essay. Writing articles can be a nerd’s dream, and this one was no exception. Looking back, I know that I’d conducted some amazing interviews, and I still believe in the vision behind my original concept. Therefore, when I first went back to my work, I didn’t anticipate any problems.

And yet, as I attempted to revise and refresh my article, I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing. There are times when you write, and your material touches you personally. You may have done an incredible amount of research, and received quotes from amazing people. You may even turn to friends for great writing advice. Yet when you try to assemble your work and and support it by adding the veil of your own perspective, you may feel as though you’re not doing it justice.

That’s the challenge that plagued me while working on my latest piece of writing. In spite of the good intentions behind my attempted revival, something just wouldn’t let my soul rest.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that I can write. But as I worked I couldn’t help but have doubts about my story’s substance. I hate the idea of being inadequate in a realm that I was born to succeed in.

Meanwhile, as I tried to sort out what was wrong, I’ve had a few epiphanies related to fear and procrastination.

A few weeks ago I thought I’d finally begun to understand where my resistance was coming from. On Twitter I’d written to a fellow writer:

Today I think I finally started to figure out how not to be afraid of writing.

The sensation didn’t last, but the reasoning behind it stuck with me.

One day I realized I was at my best when I stopped wrestling with my doubts. As an artist I’m at my best when I surrender and accept my fate. Writing is what I was meant to do. It’s all I’ve ever wanted since childhood. Yet whenever I’ve caught myself fretting over the fact that I had to write something, instead of focusing on the fact that I got to write–that’s where my internal hell began.

When it comes to your life’s mission, time spent worrying is better spent working.

And then, another revelation. One afternoon when my anxiety was at my most aggravating, it hit me:

I get it! I understand why some artists are driven to substance abuse. 

Or, at the very least, I felt as though I understood why some of them had mental health issues.

There are times when feeling the weight of your life’s calling can really mess with your head. On one hand, you’re in a position where you’re able to create and share something amazing. On the other, impostor’s syndrome is darkening your door.

You’re powerful enough to do this, but how dare you?!?

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Photo courtesy of Lenka Sluneckova on Unsplash.

So where do I go from here?

Right now, it seems as though my life is at a standstill. Whether or not it’s the calm before the storm, time will tell.

Ultimately, though, I’m convinced that when you reject what you were meant to do, you’re rejecting YOURSELF. In order to heal this rift, the first solution that comes to mind is a spiritual one. I need to give myself space daily to think intimately about how I regard myself. No matter how much I may have attempted to avoid it in the past, the fact is that I love writing–body and soul. What sense does it make for me to hate my one true love?

In the days to come I look forward to settling down to work, and genuinely embracing my reality. Let’s see what happens next.

For more on mental health and the writers’ journey, read Alicia Elliott’s essay On Burnout.

*I’m looking for a new position. If you know anyone who needs to have something written, get in touch!

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Around the T-Dot, scribble-scrabble

I’ve been working…

On my Tumblr.

Long ago a friend suggested create a writing portfolio. I’m still deciding where it will be.

As for this post, a few weeks ago I started studying copywriting via Skillshare. I’m behind–and I’ll post about why soon. 😉 But as soon as I started, I was inspired to create some fake advertisements.

Check them out!

Stretch Studio - Urban

I can’t take credit for the photos in either of these. I found them on Flickr.

a4gpa took the photo used for the ad above and shared it with an Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license. Just looking at it inspired me. I wonder if a place that’s as funky as Stretch Studio actually exists–even if it’s not in Toronto.

Toronto - 2

In this piece, I used a shot by Pedro Szekely, who presented his work under an Attribution 2.0 license. It’s such a gorgeous shot–it almost broke my heart to crop it.

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scribble-scrabble

Dear Followers:

The wait is (nearly) over.

I’ve set up a new editorial calendar for 2013. I drafted it with every intention of following it. Starting…This Monday.

Don’t you love how motivated I am…?

I know it’s been a minute or ten since I’ve written something substantial. For that, I’m sorry.

On one hand, I think that writing is an act of love.

On the other, it’s like my friend Joanne said during a conversation today. It feels like “homework”.

And I’ll admit something terrible. There are times when I hate blogging. In those moments, I think it’s a pain in the ass–as opposed to other types of writing.

Yet somehow I can’t stop myself from posting. I keep wanting to…Chat.

One way or another, though, I know I’ve got to keep these creative juices flowing.

Happy New Year!!

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scribble-scrabble

Monday was a revelation.

Lately I’ve been praying for growth opportunities. Well…Earlier this week I had a couple. Negatively speaking, I had an unpleasant run-in with someone. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that I had a significant reminder of the importance of not taking myself for granted.

On the other hand, the most personal and positive rendez-vous of the day involved my first love–writing.

I had an appointment with our county’s Writer in Residence. I won’t mention her name. (I don’t know if she’d mind.) What I will tell you is that she’s a young, talented author from Toronto. I enjoy her work very much.

But in the moments before I saw her, I was sure I was embarking upon a minor disaster.

You see, in the days before our rendez-vous, there was a problem. I couldn’t remember when we were supposed to meet. Sometime in May, the whispers started. “You have a writing appointment coming up.”

I put them aside. Yet still they came. “Writing…You should have something ready to show Ms. Author, blah, blah, blah…”

Before I knew it, June was here.

“Claire, you have a writing appointment. Soon. Check your calendar to see what’s going on.”

Meh.

I opened Entourage. My appointments aren’t hidden. Still…I didn’t notice anything that made me worry. And when I did a quick search, nothing came up.

The whispers kept getting louder. Finally last weekend, they turned into a scream.

“CHECK YOUR EMAIL!!”

And check it, I did.

I don’t remember what time it was on Sunday night. Only that it was late. I found myself on the edge of my bed, horrified. I was looking at a message that told me that my meeting was the next morning. My writing sample was due days ago.

(un)Fortunately, my Inner Optimist was on duty.

“Calm down, Claire. Just GO. Everything will be all right!”

Well then, I breathed deeply. I can’t show up with absolutely nothing to say

I scrawled one of those nice-to-know-not-need-to-know writerly-topics on a legal pad. I figured Ms. Author and I would chat for a few minutes and then I would run off. She could take an early lunch, and that would be that.

The next morning, I arrived at the library, flustered. Our WiR comes in from the city by train. I was worried. I envisioned her in meetings with well-prepared candidates, and then me. Someone who didn’t even have the decency to cancel, but expected her to be willing to talk about next-to-nada.

Instead, Ms. Author was very kind. She asked me about…Well…Me.

I wound up telling a bit of my life story. This included the fact that I’d moved to Toronto multiple times over the last decade. My reason? I was determined to leave my small town behind and (hopefully) never return.

Somewhere along the way, something caught Ms. Author’s ear.

At first she had asked me about my childhood. From there, she started digging.

Growing up, I was the only black girl wherever I went. Eventually I saw one or two other brown faces at school. But in spite of this when it came to my daily life, as far as I knew I was the only one of my kind around for kilometers miles. I attended a religious school. Few if any of the children showed me Jesus’ love. Instead, all I remember was them teasing me about being bookish and pointing out how different I was.

In the past I’d thought about exploring my life through writing. But I’d abandoned those impulses. Perhaps I could do something autobiographical down the road. That’s what I told myself. After all–as a new writer, wouldn’t it be better to work with scandalous characters that were purely products of my imagination?

At this point in my meeting, I felt as though there was a bit of divine intervention. I often believe that God–or “The Universe”, for you non-theists–speaks to us through others. Imagine how I felt when Ms. Author brought it to my attention that maybe I really should be mining my childhood for writing material.

The picture above is from a rough rough draft. I started scribbling on Tuesday during my lunch break. There’s something about discussing my school days. It’s both sad and empowering. I remember when I first went. Before then I had never really felt the weight of being different. But my classmates seemed to like to remind me.

Today, a huge part of me is still a child. That’s been both a hindrance and a help. (For instance, a part of the negativity I experienced on Monday came from the fact that I can be way too trusting.) Still. Although part of me hates to admit it, deep down I can’t help but feel as though some sort of healing will come through making art that is rooted in my history.

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